Jim Thome is no longer able to play first base, so now that interleague play is over, he’s limited to pinch-hitting duties. The future Hall of Famer hasn’t fared too well in that role to date, going just 1-for-16 with one homer and 11 strikeouts, so the Phillies are now open to setting him free.
Jayson Stark of ESPN.com was told by American League clubs that the Phillies have made Thome available for trade to clubs that need a designated hitter. The veteran slugger would prefer to play for the White Sox or Twins, but there’s not a clear fit with either club right now.
While Thome served a lengthy stint on the disabled list this season due to a back injury, he recently showcased what he could do if given regular at-bats out of the DH spot by hitting .333 (12-for-36) with four homers, two doubles and 14 RBI over nine games during interleague play.
Thome is only making a modest $1.25 million this season, so he’d be a worthwhile gamble for a contender. The 41-year-old is currently tied with Sammy Sosa for seventh all-time with 609 career home runs.
The Angels signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for a $2.3 million signing bonus last weekend. They may have damaged goods on their hands. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Ohtani underwent a physical that revealed a first-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. As a result, he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on October 20. This was made known to teams after Ohtani entered MLB’s posting system, so it wasn’t like the Angels went into this blind.
Ohtani’s report said, “Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists, he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” It also said Ohtani “will most likely be available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.”
Passan notes that the report also mentioned that a “small free body” floats in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL.
Ohtani isn’t without other injuries. He battled hamstring and ankle issues throughout 2017 and underwent right ankle surgery back in October. Thankfully for the Angels, this diagnosis is about as good as it could be considering the circumstances. However, if Ohtani does exacerbate his UCL issue, he may ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point, which would take him out of action for at least a year.